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entry and exit Switzerland set to fine cross-border shoppers undeterred by coronavirus

Border guard making a control on a car entering switzerland

Despite entry bans amid the ongoing pandemic, shoppers have continued travelling to neighbouring countries.

(Keystone / Martial Trezzini)

The federal government has clarified who can enter the country under current measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, as authorities are inundated with complaints over border restrictions. 

Despite entry bans introduced in mid-March to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, shoppers have continued to visit neighbouring countries, according to the Federal Customs Administration. 

Now those who cross the border exclusively for the purpose of shopping will be fined CHF100 ($103), the government announced on Thursdayexternal link. The act of shopping itself was not being sanctioned, it pointed out, but rather the burden on resources that shopping trips create for customs agents. 

Travellers who are not entitled to enter Switzerland according to the Covid-19 Ordinanceexternal link are not subject to a fine, the government added, seeking to clarify the measures currently in place. 

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has received thousands of complaints and questionsexternal link in recent weeks from a confused public. Media reportsexternal link have revealed cases of parents with visiting rights in neighbouring countries and those caring for elderly relatives across the border being fined upon re-entry into Switzerland.  

The government reiterated that under the ordinance, Swiss citizens and those with a valid residence permit are allowed to enter the country, regardless of the purpose of travel. Foreign nationals without a residence permit are not entitled to entry, except under situations of absolute necessity, which have now been clarified. 

They include those who are travelling to care for elderly or sick relatives, parents living separately who hold visiting rights, those travelling for urgent business purposes, and those who are undergoing medical treatment in Switzerland or abroad.

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